Report from November 2nd

I celebrated my 3000 mile milestone with a Premier inn breakfast in Sandown. Then it was off on a blustery day to work my way round the South coast.
I climbed out of Sandown and then back into Shanklin, my first chine of the trip. A chine is a steep river valley on the Isle of Wight, like a cwm in Wales or a coombe in Devon. And they are steep!
Lots of steps to negotiate.
Next came Luccombe woods. These are hilly oak woods and very lovely. Unfortunately there had been a landslide and I had to leave the coast path and take path 65.
Following path 65 was a challenge as the strong winds had covered the the forest floor with a thick covering of leaves meaning the path vanished and I was left guessing whether I was on the real path or a track caused by amorous badgers.
When I did find the path it descended precipitous slopes and a steep path covered by a layer of leaves on top of a layer of mud is quite exciting. A mixture of It’s a Knockout and downhill skiing.
I was relieved when I reached the sea defences at Ventnor, unfortunately negotiating the woods had put me behind schedule.
Further steep paths and carefully avoiding the eroded bits didn’t help me catch any time up.
The South Coast of the Isle of Wight is extremely eroded with the longest undercut section of cliffs in Europe. It is also home to a number of chines which slow walking down.
But all was not lost. As I passed Ventnor gardens I saw a flash of pale chestnut as the rear end of a red squirrel vanished behind a huge oak. This was my first red squirrel and having trekked 170 miles round Anglesey without seeing one this was a red letter day.
As dusk fell I was three miles short of my target but darkness determined my stopping point so in a strong wind I set up my tent, a mile past the delightfully named Wight Mouse pub.
It would be an early start in the morning. I had some catching up to do!

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